A FORGOTTEN Scottish knight who was William Wallace's right-hand man is to be recognised by turning his neglected tomb into a lasting memorial.

Sir John de Graeme who died fighting for Wallace 700 years ago, is buried in Falkirk, but his resting place has suffered badly from centuries of exposure to weather and vandalism.

Now the tomb of the man who fought alongside Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, is to be restored as part of a project funded by the Scottish Government’s town centre regeneration fund.

Sir John was the most notable casualty in the first Battle of Falkirk in July 1298, when the Scots were defeated by the army of English King Edward I.

His body is said to have been carried from the battlefield by Wallace himself and laid to rest in Falkirk Kirkyard, where Wallace is said to have vowed to avenge his death.

Now largely forgotten, the Scots hero is one of the only knights from the era whose final resting places are known to historians.

A centuries-old stone slab marking the site features, in Latin, the inscription: “Potent in mind and hand and the faithful Achates of Wallace, Graeme is buried here slain in war by the English 22nd July, 1298.”

The tomb, which features a recumbent knight in armour, has had slabs added over the centuries. In 1860, an elegant railing was added to enclose the grave, with a replica of Graeme’s sword cast at Falkirk Iron Works and mounted in place in 1869.

However, the grave has become worn, and vandals have struck over the years, breaking and stealing the sword. As part of the restoration, a new replica of the broadsword he carried in to battle will be fitted.

Falkirk historian Ian Scott, a member of a panel set up to restore the churchyard, said: “Sir John de Graeme was Wallace’s right-hand man according to contemporary accounts, and ‘one of the chiefs who rescued Scotland thrice’.

“Graeme’s grave was enhanced by a splendid wrought-iron enclosure erected by Victorian admirers in 1860 on which a replica of Sir John’s sword was placed nine years later, but it has been vandalised over the years and the sword stolen.

“The tomb will now be fully restored, and a new sword commissioned. New bars will be erected to protect it.”

The project should be complete in the late autumn.

Sir John de Graeme, of Dundaff in the Carron Valley near Denny, Stirlingshire, is recorded as the “most notable casualty” in the Battle of Falkirk.

Chroniclers record how Graeme, who had also fought in the victory at Stirling Bridge, fought and killed an English knight but failed to spot another enemy creeping up and was struck from behind through a gap in his armour at the waist.

Wallace is said to have later sought out Graeme’s body, dismounted from his horse, took Graeme in his arms, kissed him and called him his “best brother”, before carrying the body to the churchyard at Falkirk for burial.

Sir John’s gravestone inscription reads: “Here lyes Sir John the Grame, baith wight and wise, Ane of the chiefs who rescewit Scotland thrise, Ane better knight not to the world was lent, Nor was gude Graham of truth and hardiment.”

Born in Dundaff, Ayrshire in the late 13th century, Sir John was referenced as Schir Jhon the Grayme by 15th-century poet Blind Harry. Wallace’s lament at his death is considered one of the best parts of his poem.